SAN DIEGO — San Diego's county clerk, the man charged with issuing marriage licenses there and the most prominent public figure to move against gay marriage in California since its recent resumption, has withdrawn a legal bid to stop the practice, saying he was ceding the fight to a group that already has a similar challenge pending.
Ernest Dronenburg Jr. said in a statement Saturday that he was withdrawing his request for the state Supreme Court to halt gay weddings because the sponsors of a 2008 ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage have filed a similar petition.
The state's high court had rejected the clerk's request for a stay stopping gay marriages in California while they considered his petition.
Dronenburg had argued that county clerks could decide independently whether to issue marriage licenses to a couple.
"County clerks carry out their duties, including the issuances of marriage licenses, without supervision or control of the governor or attorney general," Dronenburg wrote in his petition. "Indeed, no statute requires county clerks to report to the governor or attorney general."
He also argued that gay marriage was only legal in Alameda and Los Angeles counties, where the couples who challenged the ban had been married.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to return to the nation's most populous state in June when it ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 lacked authority to appeal a federal trial judge's decision that the ban violated the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian Californians.
Those sponsors, who make up the organization ProtectMarriage, filed the petition that prompted Dronenberg's withdrawal.
Dronenburg, a Republican who was elected as San Diego County's assessor-recorder-clerk in 2010, had been chiefly known previously for his views on tax issues.